Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And Minnie Jackson's Pie Goes to the Lovely Lady from Woodstock, Virginia

I just loved it in The Help when Hilly Holbrook says to Skeeter Phelan, “Believe it or not, there are real racists in this town.”  Poor Hilly, she didn’t have a chance; she was so clueless to her own blind ignorance.
And that pie is special just for you Mrs K
And there are real racists in our town too—and just as clueless.  I get regular emails from a friend of mine who just hates President Obama.  Sam is a good man.  He is a good Catholic—attends Mass faithfully, volunteers for a number of charities, is active in his parish, belongs to a men’s prayer group, is a graduate of a leading Catholic University.  And he has a passionate hatred for Barack Obama.  One, two, sometimes three emails a week forwarding some article or cartoon or other disparagement, most of the most vile and abusive sort.  They aren’t rational critiques.  Don’t misunderstand me, I think there is plenty of room to be unhappy with the President.  He has been to many of us a disappointment.   How could he help but be with the expectations we put on him when he was first elected.   There is no problem in being disappointed; there is no problem with disagreement.  I am speaking of a deep personal contempt, a rabid and personal hatred, for the man.  The President can do nothing right; indeed all that he does as President, as an individual, even as husband and father, is just plain evil.   And everything that goes wrong is his fault.  There is this deep visceral contempt for the man that defies any logic—it is an out of control hatred for someone Sam has never met.   It is so bad that one friend after another, even dyed in the wool Republicans, has emailed Sam to say that they don’t want any more of his anti-Obama emails.  The fact of the matter is—and I know that it is harsh—but Sam is a racist.  Given his age and his ethnic background, it is understandable.  Sam just can’t figure out how did the world shift so much that some uppity black guy could get that far?  We haven’t had an Italian yet in the White House and now we have a black guy?—how did we get bypassed? 
Sam’s not the only one who is just really pissed that there is a Black guy in the White House.  There’s Jack.  Jack is retired military—worked his way up from an enlisted man to captain, tough guy from Brooklyn.  Jack is into guns—wants to be buried with an AK-47 at his side.  He carries a bowie knife in a sheath in his belt. Can’t talk about much other than guns and stories of the good ol’ days when he was on active duty and commanding a company of soldiers.  Jack is a faithful member of his parish, makes it to Mass every Sunday without fail.  He sent his kids to Catholic schools.   But mention President Obama—and you will hear an expletive-laden tirade about how he is a Socialist and probably a Muslim and how our country is going to hell with his commie programs.  When Jack’s son made Eagle Scout last year Jack asked former President George W. Bush to send a letter of congratulations—for Jack Barack Obama is not a legitimate President, “Probably born in Kenya.”  Again, I am not talking about a rational analysis of the successes and failures of the Obama administration—I am talking about off-the-wall outrage that is sheer emotion erupting as personal venom.  Frankly, Jack couldn’t tell you what differentiates a Socialist from a Communist from a member of the Green Party—he can just tell you how our country is going down the toilet because “Barack Hussein Obama” is in the White House.  In fact neither Jack nor Sam, Good Catholics both, could tell you what the Church teaches on issues such as Health Care, Rights of Immigrants, Capital Punishment, or Debt Forgiveness for Developing Countries.  That, by the way, says more about their pastors than about them.  Jack goes to a Church where the Pastor won’t ruffle feathers because he wants people to like him; Sam goes to a parish where you hear about Same-Sex marriage and about abortion but no other part of the Church’s teaching.  Yes, there are real racists in our town.   I am sure that both Sam and Jack would agree without batting an eyelash, much less looking in a mirror.
Am I saying that everyone who is opposed to President Obama’s policies is a racist?  By no means.  Jack and Sam aren’t opposed to his policies—they are consumed by a hatred for the man, a man they do not know.  Their disagreement with his policies is no more than a by-product of their personal contempt and hatred for Barack Obama.  He triggers in them some visceral reaction that not only is not rational but which is strong enough to override any rational analysis of the President’s policies and actions.  They hated him from the first time they saw him as a candidate and they have never been able to rationally discuss his place in history due to what has no more substance than a personal animosity.  Irrational hatred has one root—prejudice.  Prejudice can be rooted in other qualities than race, of course, but it is still prejudice and it is not pretty. 
This brings me to the Hilly Holbrook award for 2013.  I gave the commendation out last year to a prominent Northern Virginia Blogger who voiced the occasional stereotyping opinion about Latinos and Blacks and Asians and among her rants about Muslims liked to go on and on and on about how our nation is a Christian Nation and our Founding Fathers established it on Christian principles despite the fact that our founding fathers were, almost to a man, Deists at best and more aptly could be described today as benevolent agnostics.  That Blogger has passed on to her eternal reward and so now I am looking for a new recipient.  There are any number of Catholic Junior League types that would qualify.   One of the wing-nut blogs I look at a lot is Les Femmes, Women of Truth put out by MaryAnne Kreitzer, also a Virginia lady.  Twenty years ago I used to get her newsletter by the same name sent me when I worked in Northern Virginia and so I developed a particular fascination with her parallel universe.  Mrs. Kreitzer has her particular brand of Catholicism—right wing but for the most part inside the lines of faithful adherence to the Church doctrine and discipline—and she likes to push it as the only real McCoy Roman Catholicism even though it puts her at odds with not only her Bishop but the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and now increasingly with Pope Francis.  She sees the Marxism beneath the Campaign for Human Development and the Culture of Death that runs through Catholic Relief Services.  Georgetown, Notre Dame, and even the Catholic University of America have all abandoned their Catholic roots and are shilling some secularized culture that endorses Gay Marriage and the Vagina Monologues while persecuting students who want all night Eucharistic Adoration.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are out along with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its Walk for the Cure; mantillas and the Scouts of Saint George sitting around a campfire singing Latin hymns are in.  Father James Martin SJ and Sister Joan Chittester OSB have horns and tails and carry pitchforks as the roam the world seeking the ruin of souls.  This is all just eccentricity (or possibly paranoid schizophrenia) however and hardly qualifies one for the Hilly Holbrook award.  What does qualify her is her pathological hatred for the man in the White House.  It isn’t that the Obama administration is pro-Choice—I understand that objection—Mrs. K’s complaint is much wider than the usual liberal agenda.  It is a crazy off the wall loathing that has devolved into a manic rant.  More and more over the past year her anger with Obama and his presidency has pushed the Church and the issues facing the Church to the side where no story is too wild, no rumor too outrageous, no tale to scurrilous to be believed and published.  
That this is a racist view and not just a personal antipathy towards Barack Obama for some reason other than his skin color is confirmed by her recent expressions of contempt for that “radical Marxist Communist and terrorist” Nelson Mandela—who also just happens not to be white.   Mandela’s record is not spotless—no one’s is.  George Washington was a slave owner—and not always the kindest of slaveholders.  Lincoln believed that Blacks, while they should be freed from slavery, were genetically inferior to the White Race.  Christianity has at various times and in certain places encouraged violence against Jews.   The Papacy encouraged the Crusades that carried out the slaughter of tens of thousands of ordinary people, including Greek Orthodox in the 1204 Sack of Constantinople.  Thomas More, while Lord Chancellor, was responsible for carrying out the burning of “heretics.”  Pius XII could have done much more than he did to expose and condemn the murder of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and Gays in the third Reich.  Our American Revolution was not achieved without the shedding of innocent blood and the freeing of slaves in this country was at the price of untold horror and loss of life.   Each of these men and movements did evil but they also did far more good.   
Social change has always been difficult for Madame Kreitzer.  According to friends who knew her back in her days at St. Louis Parish in Alexandria she fought every battle for over forty years against letting go of the old ways in which things were done both in the Church and in Virginia life.  “She believed in the Old South and its genteel ways; it was tough for her to see the urbanization—the “northifcation”—of what was once Virginia but now had become only the Washington suburbs. Her move to the Shenandoah was find her Tara where she could teach her granddaughters to drink tea and dress pretty for Church.”   
Now Sam and Jack and Mrs. K would not think of themselves as racists—and neither, for that matter—would Hilly Holbrook. “There are some real racists in this town…” All three can assure us that some of their best friends….well, you know the line.  And they wouldn’t be untruthful.  Miss Hilly always thought she treated the help real fine.  That is the nice thing about prejudices—they don’t get in the way of personal relationships as long as everybody remembers their place.  The problem is that their place isn’t in the White House.  Maybe it be called the White House for a reason!  At least in some people’s minds.  And obviously their place even in Africa is in the bondage of apartheid under the control of decent white folks who can make sure they don’t have abortions or engage in same-sex relations.  Where would we be if we didn’t have people like Mrs. Kreitzer to tell us what is right an what is wrong and who is good and who is in mortal sin. 
So Mrs. K, in between your rants and your rages about the President and about Mr. Mandela, have your little tea parties with the girls—it’s real cute but don’t give them a slice of Minnie’s pie—that pie is special, just for you. 

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